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The Popular Styles And Influential Eras Of Antique Furniture

Jul 1, 2008
Gothic is often recognized as the earliest official furniture style, beginning in the 17th Century. Most gothic pieces were constructed of oak and featured simple, yet heavy, designs. It was directly inspired by the architecture at the time, rarely containing curved lines and focusing more on right angles. Some of the most admired gothic pieces originated in France and became known for their foliage detailing, such as vines. For the duration of the century, baroque and rococo prevailed, among other styles.

Most of the renowned furniture styles originated in England. As gothic admirers began to decline, the Early and Late Colonial styles were introduced. Primarily using pine, these pieces contained square lines with heavy decoration. The Windsor chair is a standard, well-know piece from this time.

In the early 18th Century, Queen Anne designs were also dominating, featuring graceful lines, curves and simple detailing. These pieces were commonly constructed of walnut, cherry, mahogany, maple and oak.

Towards the end of the century, four types of Georgian styles became famous. The Georgian Chippendale style added to the intricacy of already-established designs, through the use of ornately carvings. Georgian Adam featured straight lines, Georgian Hepplewhite displayed straight, tapered legs that reflected the clean design of Adam, and Georgian Sheraton contributed even more of a straighter detailing. Almost all of the Georgian designs were created with mahogany.

By the time the 19th Century approached, the Regency style began to surface. Mahogany remained the dominant wood, but bold curves were added, along with colour. In the United States, the Federal era was taking over, featuring interpretations of popular English designs. Throughout the one hundred years that followed, walnut and rosewood increased in popularity. Detailing switched from simple designs to heavier, dark products. Known as the Victorian era, this style has surpassed the test of time, with modern rooms still being influenced in this regard.

In addition to the Victorian style, Pennsylvania Dutch and shaker styles also existed. Pennsylvania Dutch displayed a mix of plain design and colourful decorations, while the shaker style contained very little detailing and, instead, the focus was placed on function.

Regardless of the style, condition remains a factor. It is important to determine whether or not chairs and other seating pieces have had their original fabric replaced. Very old furniture contains handmade screws, so the threads are not even in width and placement. Sometimes removing one screw can help to determine the value of a piece. For furniture that features mirrored glass, a flaking back is indicative of an older piece. While the bonnet-top highboy is often considered one of the most valuable types of furniture, any piece that contains highly-detailed hand carvings is worth saving.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for pottery, antiques, and figurines. When shopping for pottery, antiques and figurines, we recommend these online stores for pottery, antique furniture, and figurines.
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